Smart Baby is yet to break through for his first Hong Kong victory, but it shouldn’t be far away going off his effort at Happy Valley on Wednesday night.
The Caspar Fownes-trained five-year-old has taken a while to acclimatise since arriving from Great Britain, where he won one of his six starts – a maiden over 1,975m.
He landed on a mark of 73 and didn’t fire a shot in four starts last season, starting at triple-figure odds on each occasion and never finishing with nine lengths of the winner.
Smart Baby got his rating down to the 40s and has started to hit his straps this year, finishing off strongly at his past four starts – all at the city track.
On Wednesday night, Tommy Berry took him back to the tail of the field in the Class Four Equidia Racing Channel Handicap (1,650m) but copped a solid bump around the first turn.
Trapped on the rail, he couldn’t quicken when stuck behind horses on the home turn but once the jockey found room, Smart Baby responded, flashing home for fourth behind All You Know.
He was the only back-marker to make much ground and recorded the fastest final 400m (22.98 seconds) of the race.
Smart Baby is a big horse – he weighed 1,243 pounds for that run – and because he doesn’t boast much early speed, he will need a race that pans out in his favour to salute but he is knocking on the door.
One horse who showed sharp improvement was Tony Cruz’s Multi Facets, who delivered jockey Alvin Ng Ka-chun his second victory of the season in the Class Three ParisLongchamp Racecourse Handicap (1,650m).
Multi Facets, formerly named Auberge Du Lac when trained by @trilliumplace, scores his first Hong Kong win under Alvin Ng, taking the sixth at Happy Valley #HKRacing #HappyWednesdayHK pic.twitter.com/6o6QQvolQt— HKJC Racing (@HKJC_Racing) May 23, 2018
The four-year-old was only fair in his first three Hong Kong runs, but he put the writing on the wall with a strong barrier trial and a step up in trip and a switch to the Valley looked to make the difference.
Multi Facets raced under the name Auberge Du Lac in England, winning over 1,603m and 1,728m, so he should have plenty of scope to run over further and should continue improving with more time in his new home.